New PAHO manual provides guidance on radiation shielding in clinics and small hospitals 

Washington, D.C., 27 August 2013 ? The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in collaboration with Rotary International District 6440, has published a new online manual, Radiation Shielding for Clinics and Small Hospitals.

Radiological safety depends on strict work habits, protective measures, and adequate shielding in medical facilities. This new manual provides guidance on shielding for clinics and small hospitals, where few daily X-rays examinations are performed. It details calculations used to determine the radiation shielding required for the minimum-size room (16 square meters) that is acceptable for a WHIS-RAD X-ray unit. Adjoining spaces as well as various situations involving staff, patients and the storage of X-ray sensitive materials (such as film and digital receptors) are included. The manual notes that common building materials, such as adobe, bricks or concrete, can provide adequate shielding if they are of sufficient thickness.

Calculations use to determine the required shielding are based on a workload consisting of X-ray examinations of 3,000 patients per year, as is common in small hospitals, and also for many times that workload. The manual also provides references for comparing shielding requirements for similar installations.

Radiation Shielding for Clinics or Small Hospitals with a WHIS-RAD is available in Spanish and English in pdf format and is part of a pilot project on diagnostic imaging that has been carried out in Guatemala in collaboration with the country's Ministry of Health, PAHO, and Rotary International districts 4250 (in Guatemala) and 6440 (Northern Illinois, USA).

Worldwide, an estimated 3,600 million diagnostic examinations utilizing X-rays are conducted each year. However, there is still a disparity in the rate of radiological studies performed between developing and industrialized countries. In Latin America and the Caribbean, countries at an intermediate level of health development perform some 400 radiological studies per 1,000 population per year.

The manual was written by Dr. Phillip E.S Palmer and Dr. Gerald Hanson, who have worked for PAHO and WHO in the past on radiology and radiologic safety.